Sunday, September 22, 2013

Checking Cows

One of the things necessary for any rancher, be he a large operation or a very small one, is to "check the cows."  It very simply means to go look at them.  To observe them.  The object is to 1) make certain they are all accounted for and 2) make sure they are healthy.  It seems simple and repetitive.

There is a little more to it than that.  It first assumes that the rancher knows how many animals should be there.  He is responsible for them.  It is important that he keeps track of them to be certain they are safe -- not stolen or strayed.

It also assumes that he knows enough about the animals under his care to be able to detect when there is something wrong.  Cattle are "prey" animals.  Their eyes are mounted somewhat on the sides of their heads so that they can see almost 360 degrees around them.  As prey animals they also tend to hide any problems.  If they have a newborn calf, they sometimes leave it hidden in the grass and move away from it so that it will be undetectable.  If they are lame, they try to hide their lameness by staying in a group of animals or by attempting to minimize any limp.  If they are running a fever, as long as the rancher is in sight, they keep their head up and alert and will at least nibble at their feed rather than acting lethargic and without appetite. 

So, the reality is that the rancher has to "know" his cattle.  He has observed them frequently and is able to detect behavior that is not as it should be.

But, it also means that the cattle "know" the rancher.  Because he checks on the cattle regularly, they become used to him.  They accept him.  They know that he is there (hopefully) to take care of them and not to harm them.

It is a relationship built on frequency that leads to knowledge and trust.  It is just like the Biblical illustrations of the Good Shepherd. 

It's amazing how everyday tasks can be examples of how God cares for us.  If you have "gone astray" however, you can't develop that relationship.  You have to get back with the herd.  Fortunately though, He comes looking for you wherever you may have gone. 

John 10
Luke 15

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